In the words of Pastor Rick Warren, “Contentment is not laziness, complacency, apathy, or fatalism. Contentment does not mean you are not making progress, or you do not have goals. It means you are happy with what you have right now.”
“It is better to have only a less with peace of mind, than being busy all the time with both hands, trying to catch the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6
When I was younger climbing the rungs of my career and as a mother of young sons trying to catch my breath, I wish I had heard these words then and they become more powerful for me to heed now in my empty nest. Turning back time is impossible but living in the present can slow it down.
Which brings me to today, the biggest day of the year for retailers and shoppers – Black Friday. This isn’t a day I usually go out to the local shops and mall, however, my son is home from college and has the day off of work. He wants to go shopping. A chance to spend time with my son, you bet!
Joy in a cup of coffee
Around the world and particularly in the United States, there is much discontent. It is difficult to find much joy no matter where one turns although many people mouth these words across social media to make kindness great again (myself included). Yet even today for this Black Friday after waiting in a long drive-thru lane to purchase a decaf coffee for my son, the vehicle in front of us paid for our order. My son and I look at each other in amazement as the drive-thru server with the biggest smile and the brightest blue eyes said it had been happening all day. So of course, we paid kindness forward or should I say backward.
It was the best gift I bought all day.
It was worth every penny of the $11.31 for one 16 oz. cup of decaf coffee to see the joy in the faces of the drive-thru server and my son.
I had enough coffee before we had set out on our shopping expedition, still the Starbucks pay-it behind experience got me thinking in over-drive.
Why does it take a holiday for us to be kind to one another?
Is it reminder to ourselves that kindness can still bring joy to a stranger? That the gift of giving without any expectations is still possible, still worthy?
How can we learn to be content with acts of kindness rather than simply buying a gift out of obligation or because it is the latest, greatest, and most likely the most expensive material gift on the shelves today and we must have it?
How can we, as a nation learn to be content with what we have rather than be so concerned with those seeking fairness in asylum, equality, and opportunity to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Granted, we have our own set of problems with homelessness, gun and domestic violence, and under-insured people, but do we even bother helping our own as we check-out the latest X-Box or designer sneakers?
How do we accept others different than ourselves who are also American-born citizens as well as those born elsewhere?
How can we be kind to one another every day?
Paying kindness forward
Citizens of the United States have always rallied to help one another in crisis, whether here at home or abroad. Yet currently there are many Americans who are taking a nationalist approach to the global economy and national security to name just two topics. I contend it is easier to keep what made this country great – our ingenuity, our integrity, and yes, our kindness than to discard those qualities for own self-righteousness.
I am not what I own, whether it is in the material things I buy on Black Friday or what I am given because by the grace of God I live in the United States. Dreams and ambitions do not just reside in these things, but in what I do, in what I think, and where I live. They reside in each one of us who may look, believe, speak differently than I do or live beyond borders.
I pray that I can be content with what I have and allow my content to make progress toward healing the world with the goal of making it a better place for everyone. Not just in the holiday season but all year long.
Find joy in making the world a better place
May we all find joy
Why not buy someone a cup of coffee today and discuss how kindness can be paid forward to heal the world? Then act upon it together. Kindness starts with you and me. It starts with acceptance and the desire to understand each other and not just in the drive-thru lane.
The Blogging Owl
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